Leeds Rhinos: Let's all get behind Carnegie - McDermott

New Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has issued an impassioned plea to fans to get behind union sister club Leeds Carnegie.

The union side will have an opportunity to showcase themselves to league supporters on Saturday, when Headingley stages a Carnegie-Rhinos double-header.

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Carnegie's Guinness Premiership game at home to Gloucester has been brought forward to a 1pm kick-off – and Rhinos will take on Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in the festive charity challenge two hours later.

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That game was due to be played yesterday, but had to be put back to New Year's Day due to a frozen pitch.

The change of date isn't ideal for McDermott, who had planned to give his players this week off.

But he enthused: "I like the new arrangement, I think it's good and I like the idea of double-headers.

"If you are going to have two clubs sharing one ground I think it makes sense to try this sort of thing – and this weekend is a good opportunity to do it."

McDermott is currently at his second dual-code club – after a spell in charge of Harlequins RL, who are twinned with the Harlequins union side.

"We had a double-header last season," he said. "That was regarded as a success in that people who stayed for both games enjoyed it.

"It's going to be a bit different on Saturday, because we are playing in winter, but it will be good to be able to watch both games.

"I hope some of the rugby union spectators stay behind to watch the league game and some of the league people turn up early to have a look at the union."

Wakefield-born McDermott is a league man, but said he can appreciate the rival code.

Having worked at Quins – where the league side played second fiddle to the union outfit – he is aware of how hard the 15-a-side club here has to work to make an impact.

"Rugby union has made huge strides over the last 10 years in terms of being a spectacle," he said.

"I can sit down now and watch a game of rugby union now far more than I

used to be able to.

"I would urge league spectators to come along early at the weekend and – in the dark days of winter when there's no rugby league – maybe get a season ticket for the rugby union."

Meanwhile, McDermott plans to field his Boxing Day squad in the re-arranged game – and he insisted the change of date will not have a major impact on his pre-season plans.

"The players were going to be off this week," he confirmed. "Now they will be coming in to get ready for the (New Year's Day) game.

"When the game is played it will be a full-on game of rugby league and we have to respect that.

"But we are in pre-season and I am not altering any of our training schedule in order to get a better result on Saturday.

"I'm not interested in the result, I want our fellas to go out there and put in place some of the things we have practiced.

"If that means they have a day off because it is better for them physically, we will do that. I am concerned with our preparations for the start of Super League."

He added: "It allows the players to have a Christmas. They could relax a bit on Christmas Day and have Boxing Day and the day after off, then we'll be in to prepare for Saturday."

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